Barbara Cavanaugh

Jacki Mowery Photo credit: Mark Stehle

WHO SHE IS: Head Librarian, School of Veterinary Medicine

YEARS AT PENN: 14 at Penn; 6 at Penn Vet

WHAT SHE DOES: Cavanaugh oversees the School’s two library facilities, Atwood Library and Information Commons in the new Hill Pavilion and the duPont Veterinary Medicine Library at the New Bolton Center. During the summer, the library staff takes care of behind-the-scenes activities—from annual reports to renewing journal subscriptions. When the school year kicks in, Cavanaugh finds herself instructing students and helping them with research projects.

BRAND-NEW FACILITIES: The Atwood Library has room for about 30,000 volumes, and boasts 45 computers (as opposed to five in the old facility), group study rooms with wall-mounted monitors and individual study carrels.

OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE: Cavanaugh, who assisted in the Atwood planning process, notes that the library, located on the second floor of Hill Pavilion, has no wall to separate it from the teaching and research facilities in the rest of the building. That’s deliberate, she says—intended to make the library feel closely integrated with the new facility and the students’ daily lives.

WHAT KEEPS HER MOTIVATED: “When you’re a librarian, it makes a huge difference in people’s lives, but I think in medicine, perhaps even more so, because you’re dealing with life and death,” Cavanaugh says. “The field is ever-changing. It’s a very different world then when I entered library school. Just the overload of information keeps it a challenge.”

Originally published on September 6, 2007